Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Web-2-Print …….. What? This is something new?

This morning, I noticed that Andy Tribute, one of the Printing Industry analysts who frequently writes articles and creates video presentations that are published on WhatTheyThink.com, has a new presentation titled……

Web to Print – It is the Future for Print

By Andrew Tribute

“I recently attended and spoke at the Xerox Forum, an event run in Berlin by Xerox Europe. I was speaking on a panel and was asked what I would recommend for printers to invest in within the next year. My answer was that I would recommend developing their Internet expertise in the area of web to print to make it easier for customers to work with them.”

Unfortunately, Andy’s presentation is “premium content”, meaning that, if you want to watch it, you have to “pay to play.” This is one presentation that I have no interest in paying to see. I certainly appreciate that some people want to make money for the research they undertake in order to position themselves to put forth expert opinions about opportunities and what not, but, come on, any printer or reprographer who is not already aware that “web-2-print” services are nowadays absolutely necessary if you want to maintain your customer relationships and add new ones, should have his/her head examined …. and will probably not be in business five years from now. Come on, folks, reprographers and printers have been talking about “web-2-print” for at least ten years, if not longer!

The main principle involved in “web-2-print” is that, if you make it easy for customers to order services – and, I mean, make it very easy - they will like doing business that way, for it will save them time. Contrary to what some might say, it’s not always “cheapest price” that gets the business. Sometimes, it simply comes down to “who offers the easiest way to get something done.”

When I think of companies who offer web-2-print services, three company names come immediately to mind:

* Mimeo.com

* Uprinting.comt

* 48HourPrint.com

This is not to say that there are not hundreds of printing companies (and reprographers) who don’t offer web-2-print ordering, for that is the case, there are, for sure, hundreds that do. But, I’ve been following Mimeo.com since it was founded, and they offer one of the slickest ordering interfaces I’ve ever come across. And, last year, I needed to get a set of business cards printed for a convention I was going to be attending, and I used Uprinting.com for my cards. They made it so simple, so easy, fantastic service! When I visited 48hourprint.com’s web-site, I read some of their customer testimonials; this was one:

"I have used several other online printing services, and 48HourPrint.com has definitely become my favorite. The ordering process is smooth and hassle free. As a small business owner, I have to wear a lot of hats and get easily annoyed when ordering a product takes up too much of my time. Your service couldn't have been any easier, and the product looks perfect."

Gareth Conner

Creative Conners, Inc.

Many reprographers, for years, have been offering “on-line ordering” for plans and specs. ARC calls their on-line ordering “EWO” (electronic work order). At NGI, we referred to ours as “EWOF” (electronic work order form.) Virtually every reprographer who offers an e-planroom service offers some sort of electronic order form for placing orders. The question is, how many reprographers have extended their EWO’s and EWOF’s into the non-A/E/C printing services end of their businesses. And, for those that have, have they made it “oh-so-easy” (some call it “idiot-proof”) to use? The harder it is for customers to use a web-2-print interface to place orders, the less successful your web-2-print initiative will be. And, the opposite is equally the case.

Frequent visitors to this blog have read articles I’ve posted about Service Point Solutions, and more than one of those articles has mentioned Service Point Solutions’ web-2-print initiatives. SPS is expecting web-2-print to contribute handsomely to its recovery …. and to its growth.

Anyway, we should all thank Andy Tribute for sharing his expert opinions, even when those opinions are offered as “premium content”, but the thought of me paying even $1 for advice that web-2-print is an opportunity, well, thank you, I’ll pass on that one.

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